In 2018, the Kansas Legislature legalized the cultivation of industrial hemp. But growing hemp is challenging – from equipment and license requirements to managing markets and aphids. Still, several Kansas farmers are growing hemp and sharing their experiences with others.
The Kansas Hemp Consortium is a group of licensed hemp producers, processors, dryers, chemists, soil and water scientists, farmers, ranchers, and business developers interested in hemp-related businesses. They collect data on seed sourcing, genetics, planting dates and techniques, precipitation, fertilization, pest pressure, weed management, harvest techniques, yields, and plant characteristics.
In 2021, the Kansas Hemp Consortium started testing six hemp varieties with Kansas farmers in different growing climates and soil types across various parts of Kansas, with support from a SARE grant. In 2022, they received a second grant to provide farmers with recommended genetics, planting techniques, and guidance through changing regulations.
They share what they learn as they work to build a knowledge bank for hemp production in Kansas and the central plains. Their "Kansas Industrial Hemp Planting Best Practices Guide" includes information on regulations, seasonal timing, genetics, equipment, and environmental conditions.
The Kansas Hemp Consortium hosts public events to increase awareness and industry knowledge of industrial hemp. These collaborative efforts have brought together industry experts from Kansans for Hemp, the Kansas Department of Agriculture, Kansas State University, and other organizations.
"Today, little information is available for hemp producers to make decisions," said Sarah Stephens, President of the Kansas Hemp Consortium. "The farmers and respective farms involved in these projects hope to promote the growth of the industrial hemp industry in Kansas."
Want more information? See the related SARE grants:
- KS Fiber Hemp Variety Trials (FNC21-1307)
- Increasing Industrial Hemp Acreage for Fiber and Grain with Planting Best Practices & Recommendations (ONC22-105)